Older men with higher levels of symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) may face coronary heart disease risk than people of the same age without the disorder, a new study says.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a serious, potentially debilitating condition that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a life-threatening event, such as a natural disaster or a serious accident.
People with the disorder frequently re-live the event through flashbacks and nightmares. Relaxing, concentrating or sleeping may become difficult. They often feel detached or estranged from loved ones.
Laura D. Kubzansky, of the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, and colleagues analysed data on 1,946 men from the Greater Boston area who served in the military, reported Newswise wire.
The authors looked for new cases of coronary heart disease occurring during follow-up through May 2001.
They found that individuals with higher levels of PTSD symptoms may be at higher risk of developing coronary heart disease, though they are not prone to reporting higher levels of chest pain or other physical symptoms.
"These data suggest that prolonged stress and significant levels of PTSD symptoms may increase the risk for coronary heart disease in older male veterans," the researchers conclude.
"These results suggest that exposure to trauma and prolonged stress not only may increase the risk for serious mental health problems but are also cardio toxic."
The researchers claimed no prospective studies to date have examined PTSD in relation to cardio risk.